Land of smiles

Land of smiles

Thailand is well known for the welcoming and warm nature of its culture and people. Beautiful temples, paddy fields are a common sight in and around busy cities, reflecting the diversity of landscape and lifestyle of Thai people. Thailand is often referred to as the “Land of Smiles”. Being an ancient Asian kingdom, Thailand is significantly influenced by Buddhists and its traditions. Theravada Buddhism is seen as a source of order and stability in society and acts as a symbol of unity for the Thai people. With globalisation, modern Thai society has absorbed contemporary values and progressive ideas.

Thailand is often promoted as a partying destination, but Thai society is relatively modest and conservative. The concept of face, respect and shame are essential factors in Thailand. Thais rarely display strong negative emotions in public, and they are often seen as being super laid back because of this. The real reason behind this behaviour is the sense of national pride. The country and its people cling to the pride that it is the only nation in Southeast Asia to have never been colonised by European countries.

With thousands of temples, shrines scattered all around, amazing people with beautiful smiles, mouthwatering cuisine, especially the street food culture, beautiful landscapes, white sandy beaches, and islands have influenced the fascinating Thai culture. It is a country that you don’t need a reason to travel to; it is without question Thailand, the place that never disappoints. Thailand will always exceed anyone’s holiday travel expectations from a far corner of the world. That is the definition of Thailand.

Wat Mahathat Temple in the precinct of Sukhothai Historical Park a UNESCO world heritage site in Thailand 1
Happy thai farmer
Farmers farming on rice terraces.
Top view old woman cooking Thai noodle soup Tom Yam style on Thai tradition boat in local floating market Famous traditional Thai street food for tourist people travel Bangkok Thailand
A country with six thousand islands – Japan

A country with six thousand islands – Japan

Japan has a fascinating, rich culture. Japanese practice traditions that date back thousands of years. In the 21st century, Japanese society is continually changing fashion technology and development, taking pride in their ancient customs and traditions. This is what makes it such a fascinating country to visit.

Japan is a nation consisting of more than 6000 islands. The country has four distinct seasons and makes a country of many unique local cultures. China and Chinese culture have influenced Japan since classical times, and history plays an essential part in Japanese culture.

There are a lot of temples and shrines scattered all around Japan. Buddhism and traditional Shinto religion have influenced architecture. Some of the places and structures are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Japanese religious beliefs heavily influence traditions and festivals.

Japanese culture is centered on respect and privacy. Ethics of Japan consists of a demand for compassion. Some of the core values in Japan are “Thinking of others, doing your best, not giving up, respecting elders, knowing your role and teamwork.”

One of the most interesting facts about modern Japan is 69% of the people practice Shinto, 66.7% practice Buddhism, 1.5% practice Christianity and 6.2% other religions as of 2018. However, people tend to identify with no religion when questioned. Japan is a blissful destination with a beautiful and diverse history. Japan’s vibrant and relaxed atmosphere, people, architecture, and culture is rich in every way. A visit to Japan will amaze you.

A country with six thousand islands – Japan: World Holiday Vibes Blog
A country with six thousand islands – Japan: World Holiday Vibes Blog
A country with six thousand islands – Japan: World Holiday Vibes Blog
A country with six thousand islands – Japan: World Holiday Vibes Blog
Why is it called “The palace gently blessed by heaven?

Why is it called “The palace gently blessed by heaven?

There are five main palaces scattered around Seoul, South Korea, and Gyeongbokung palace is the most spectacular palace that one must visit.

It was built in 1395. Palace was destroyed by a fire in the late 1500 but was restored, adding more than 500 buildings in the 1800s. Like the forbidden city in Beijing, China, Gyeongbokung is a complex of buildings, gardens, halls, and pavilions, and it is a city inside a metropolis.

Palace ground is filled with ponds and ornate statues. It is the best place for an afternoon walk to remember. Highlights are:

  • The Throne Hall.
  • The royal banquet hall and Hyangwonjeong
  • A two-story pavilion on a small island

If you stand under the main palace roof and gaze up, you will be amazed by the vibrant colors.

If you have some days in Seoul, you must include this palace in your itinerary. This is the one to see! Make sure you have a pre-planned guided tour in Seoul, especially if you plan to visit Gyeongbokung palace, as it is a famous tourist attraction and can get crowded.

Gyeongbokung Palace Korea: World Holiday Vibes Blog
Gyeongbokung Palace Korea: World Holiday Vibes Blog
Pure water Temple – Kiyomizu Dera – Temple – Kyoto, Japan

Pure water Temple – Kiyomizu Dera – Temple – Kyoto, Japan

In the wooded hills in Kiyoto on the beautiful site of Otawa Waterfall sits the Kiyomizu Dera temple. It was founded in 780 and got its unique name from the falls pure water. The temple is a UNESCO world heritage site because of its unique location, architecture, and history.

Otawa Waterfall is considered just as special and spiritual as the temple. Waterfall sits at the base of the temple. Its water is believed to possess spiritual benefits. The water is divided into three streams; each has its unique benefits such as love life, longevity, and success. Visitors use cups attached to long poles and drink from the streams but drinking from all three streams is considered greedy.

Kiyomizu Dera is famous for its wooded stages. From the scene, visitors can see the beautiful views of cherry and maple tree forest that stretches for miles on the hill and the views of Kyoto city. Behind the temple is the Jish shrine dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. Around the Kiyomizu temple, there are other temples such as vermillion three stories pagoda and its zuigudo hall is dedicated to the mother of Buddha.

Kiyomizu Dera is beautiful in the night with its shimmering lights, and from there, you can watch the night lights of Kyoto as if the night sky has fallen. If you plan to visit Kyoto, make sure you pre-book your itinerary through a seasoned travel agent. You shouldn’t miss these unique experiences and commuting around Japan without a plan will be tough.

Largest Temple Ever Built – Karnak Temple – Luxor, Egypt

Largest Temple Ever Built – Karnak Temple – Luxor, Egypt

Built over 2000 years ago and dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu, ruins of the ancient Karnak temple sit in the ancient city of Luxor. IT is believed to be the largest temple ever built, covering 200 acres, one of the many wonders of the world. Karnak temple is unique because dozens of Pharoses added their constructions over their ruling years. The size and the various architectural, artistic details make it an invaluable historical site.

Ancient Egyptians believed that the earth and the gods become exhausted at the end of each agricultural cycle and need a fresh start every year. They held an ” Opet ” festival, which lasted for 27 days. “Opet” is also a celebration of the connection between Amun and Pharos.

Karnak temple is truly a magnificent site to visit. A well planned pre-booked itinerary to Egypt will be able to properly navigate you through all the significant and mesmerizing historic sites.

At night Karnak temple offers a dramatic sound and light show. The show narrates the significant events of the kings and the gods. Ancient kings arise to tell you the secrets of their lives as mysterious Egyptian music flows through the temple. Poetic voices will tell you about the birth of Karnak Temple, Pharos, and its gods. It is an enchanting and exciting experience you should not miss. If you are visiting Egypt, make sure you spare time for both morning and night tours at the temple.

Things not to do in Sri Lanka for a hassle-free holiday

Things not to do in Sri Lanka for a hassle-free holiday

Don’t ride an elephant in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has declared twenty-two national parks where five to six thousand elephants roam freely. However, there are also approximately 200 to 300 elephants in captivity, and they are primarily used in religious processions and riding camps. The captive Elephants are not being cared for well and are “broken” to train them to allow riders on their backs using a variety of cruel methods, and many are not fed properly and are kept in chains. You’re likely to find elephant riding camps in and around Sigiriya, Habarana areas. Be a responsible traveller. Even though it is a tempting idea of riding an elephant, please try to avoid it and do not support or encourage people to ride elephants. Instead, head to one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks to see wild Asian elephants or visit Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe to see orphaned baby elephants – these elephants are returned to the wild after they turn five years old.

Don't ride an elephant in Sri Lanka: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t encourage your safari Jeep driver to chase or corner animals in national parks

Things can go seriously wrong in some of the more popular national parks. You are likely to come in direct contact with wild animals. Do not wear bright clothes during a safari ride, and make sure you wear earthy coloured garments. Do not flash your cameras when you are face to face with animals. Do not hover your drones close to the animals. Keep your hands inside, and don’t wave or make sudden movements inside the jeep. Keep your vices low, and wildly do not scream out of excitement or fear. Do not take liquor with you during the safari ride. A sane mind will prevent a lot of unnecessary incidents. Respect the animals by keeping a safe distance, and don’t encourage your driver to get too close or to chase wild animals. Some irresponsible or less-experienced safari drivers in Sri Lanka may equate a better line of sight with more tips – assure them that that is not the case and encourage your driver to stick to any marked paths and roads in national parks.

Don't encourage your safari Jeep driver to chase or corner animals in national parks.: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Please don’t touch any dogs that don’t have their ears clipped or don’t have a collar

Unfortunately, rabies still exists in Sri Lanka, though amazing charities run vaccination and spay/neuter programs around the island. There are a lot of stray dogs, cats, goats, cows, monkeys roaming in the streets, and most dogs and cats are friendly and are used to human touch and affection. However, you can never be too safe – these animals are lovely, but avoid touching them unless you know for sure and without a shadow of a doubt that they have been vaccinated against rabies. If you want to feed them, leave the food on the ground and encourage them to grab it; you are at a safe distance. If you touch one, please wash your hands afterwards. If you are bitten by a dog, cat or even a monkey, go directly to the hospital. Do not pass. Go.

Please don't touch any dogs that don't have their ears clipped or don't have a collar: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t ride a scooter or motorcycle without a helmet

Scooter rentals are not as big or common in Sri Lanka as in places like Bali and Thailand. You might still be able to rent scooters, motorcycles here and there from private owners. Just know this – you will get stopped by the traffic police hiding in the most unexpected corners. You will be fined if you ride a scooter or motorcycle in Sri Lanka without a helmet. Since you are a foreigner, if you come across a disgraced cop, you might have to pay underhand cash to get away with a fine, and that’s going to cost you a fortune. So always wear a helmet and make sure you have a valid license to ride a bike in a foreign country. Plus, don’t you want to protect your head in case you get into an accident. Sri Lanka is not the place to practice your scooter or motorcycle skills. The road and traffic systems can and will get to your nerves. Locals drive and ride in a hurry, and some of them are not very friendly and considerate. Be cautious when you ride.

Don't ride a scooter or motorcycle without a helmet: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t cross the road without looking both ways

Bus, truck, motorbike and tuk-tuk drivers in Sri Lanka often drive like madmen. Always be aware of your surroundings when walking the streets, even if it’s a small remote village. If you are riding or driving, keep your eyes on the road, ready to hit the breaks. Use designated crosswalks if there’s a lot of oncoming traffic. Look both ways before you cross. If you are recording and taking photos, take your eye off your device when you are walking the busy streets and lanes and be vigilant during dusk and at night – there are many blind corners!

Don't cross the road without looking both ways: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t compare Sri Lanka to India

Sri Lanka and India are separate countries. The two countries are so, so different in many ways! The people speak different languages, the culture and customs are different too, even the food is exceptionally dissimilar. Sri Lankan people are friendly and take massive pride in their hospitality.

Don't compare Sri Lanka to India: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t expect your international credit card to work everywhere

Make sure you have sufficient local currency in your pockets, Keep change money, coins and smaller notes. Especially in smaller towns, restaurants and hotels, small boutique shops, and even supermarkets. If you use local cab service and tuk tuks having change notes is essential. If you need to withdraw money, look for Sampath Bank, Commercial Bank or People’s Bank branches where they are more likely to take international debit or credit cards.

Don't expect your international credit card to work everywhere: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t walk around town half naked

Sri Lanka is unlike some other Asian countries because it is still relatively modest. Buddhism’s primary religion, so be mindful of your attire when you visit temples (cover your shoulders and wear pants) or walk around town. If you are wearing sleeveless tops and shorts, dresses and skirts above your knee, make sure you carry a shawl or something similar to wrap around your waist and cover your shoulders. Shorts and tank tops are fine if you roam around a city, village, or other places. It’s not a problem to expose your shoulders unless you’re in a place of worship, but I would not recommend that you drive shirtless on a scooter or walk around town in a bikini. Some tourists are even being stopped by police in the street and told to cover up! Don’t worry; bikinis and other swimwear are acceptable when you’re actually on the beach or generally in coastal areas.

Don't walk around town half naked: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t be disrespectful in religious shrines and monuments

Cover your legs and shoulders, and take off shoes and hats to enter a Buddhist temples and Hindu kovils. Do not mistreat Buddhist images, statues or other artefacts as it is a severe offence – this is one of the most important things not to do in Sri Lanka and could get you deported on the next flight home. Don’t mock the Buddha and pose for photographs with your back facing the Buddha. Taking a photo with your back facing the Buddha is considered very disrespectful and is not only frowned upon, but you may be stopped by staff or police and ask you to delete any photos you took in that position. Don’t enter any of the religious places if you have consumed alcohol. Don’t spit or smoke in or around sacred places. Keep your voice low.

Don't be disrespectful in religious shrines and monuments: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t snap photos if it’s not authorized

Don’t take photographs of military bases, government buildings or vehicles used by VIPs. Before you take photos of people, especially children, ask! This includes not taking pictures of people without their express consent during prayer at temples around the country. Taking photographs of the stilt fishermen? Know that in tourist areas, you will be charged a fee for doing so and that the fishermen are often just there for the photo opp.

Don't snap photos if it's not authorized: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t hop into a tuk tuk until you’ve agreed on a price

In general, tuk tuk most drivers in Sri Lanka don’t try to rip you off, and prices are relatively standard to get from place to place. However, some tuk tuks do not have a meter, and they will try to rip you off. Use google maps and know beforehand about the distance you have to travel and time. Some guys might take you on a longer route to make an extra buck. So make sure you agree on a price (including waiting time, if needed) before you hop in! The best way to travel safe is to use a local transport service like “Pick me”

Don't hop into a tuk tuk until you've agreed on a price: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Don’t underestimate how long it takes to get from place to place

Sri Lanka is only about 430 KM tall and 220 KM wide, but it can take you hours and hours to travel from place to place as the roads can be jam-packed. Make sure you add one or two extra hours when informing your hotel of your arrival time.

Don't underestimate how long it takes to get from place to place: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Always Eat With Your Right Hand

Sri Lanka has got some tasty cuisine. Their seafood is to die for. But no matter how much your mouth waters, never ever eat food with your left hand, no matter however difficult it is to eat with your right one if you’re left-handed. The reason behind this etiquette is because the left hand is considered unclean in their culture. The same applies to activities such as taking or giving something, and obviously shaking someone’s hand. Take it as a rule of thumb when traveling in Sri Lanka and do not forget it at any cost or you might risk offending anyone superstitious.

Always Eat With Your Right Hand: World Holiday Vibes Blog

 Leave The Romance For The Bedroom

Public display of affection is strictly frowned upon anywhere in Sri Lanka. They do not take kindly to people, especially foreigners getting touchy or handsy with one another in Sri Lanka. If you do happen to display some affection in public, good luck trying to fend off aggressive stares from some of the locals who can be quite conservative when it comes to such matters. The farthest couples can go when it comes to the public display of affection is holding hands in public, that’s all. A trick you can adopt from the locals, if you can’t control your impulses, is covering yourselves with an umbrella. You could also avoid a tan perhaps.

 Leave The Romance For The Bedroom: World Holiday Vibes Blog

Beware Of Mosquitos

Just like any other destination in the world, some of the good things about Sri Lanka are also bad things about Sri Lanka. Its rawness and un-urban charm come with a few drawbacks too. For example, the problem of mosquitoes and other insects. Do not forget to carry mosquito repellent sprays or creams with you when traveling to Sri Lanka, especially in the more remote areas of the country. Dengue fever has had several outbreaks in the past, and so have other diseases like malaria. Therefore, hygiene is of utmost importance.

Beware Of Mosquitos: World Holiday Vibes Blog